Boating & Kayaking

On the Water

Several lakes dot the Estes Park Valley and Rocky Mountain National Park, but only a few allow recreational boating. The most popular, Lake Estes, spreads across 185 surface acres to the east of downtown Estes Park. Here, at the Lake Estes Marina, visitors can rent canoes, lake kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, motorized fishing boats, pontoon boats and paddle boats from roughly May 1 to the middle of September (depending on the weather). Once on the water, the views offer a unique perspective of the surrounding mountains and landscape. Plus, boating provides a fun way to spend a few hours or even a full day! Bring a picnic to enjoy on shore or in the boat. Fish, read, paddle or simply relax-once you're in control of the boat, the choice is yours. Explore inlets as the sun warms your back; you'll feel a million miles away from civilization even though you're in the heart of it.

Do-it-yourself boaters might enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park. They may launch canoes or kayaks on any lake except Bear Lake (motorized boats are not allowed on any of the lakes inside the national park). Conditions vary by season and waterway, so checking in with rangers at the entry gates or visitor centers is wise. Some lakes in the park are easier to access than others. Lily and Sprague lakes provide the most convenient access, given the proximity of their parking lots. Access to Sprague Lake requires a short carry-roughly 100 yards-over a bridge, while Lily Lake's launch is adjacent to the parking lot. The reward for the extra effort? A pristine wilderness that feels like it's yours alone. Feel free to cast a line (noting the national park's regulations) or simply float a spell as you listen to the sounds of birds, the occasional breaching fish or the wind in the trees. Additional lakes can be accessed with additional effort. The park doesn't provide rentals, so boaters must bring their own canoes or kayaks.

Whether you have your own boat or choose to rent one, boating on area lakes offers a serene way to experience the beauty and views of Estes Park and its surroundings.